As the new school year gets under way, teachers, students and the data on student well-being are all sounding an alarm: many children are struggling, and their mental health is suffering.

Help, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, should come from schools, because while their primary role is academic, schools, “ play a critical role in shaping mental, physical, and social growth.”

The challenge is how.

Educators are warning about chronic absenteeism and behavioral concerns, and are clear that addressing student wellness is a necessary companion to academic learning. Schools have added school counselors and mental health staff, brought in partners and programs to provide students with services, secured food and clothing, and provide supportive peer and adult relationships.

But as federal stimulus funds recede, schools are cutting back on recovery programs and are reportedly 100,000 mental health counselors short of the need.

There is no realistic way for schools to hire or spend their way out of this crisis if they keep doing more of the same.  It’s time to look for new ways to address students’ mental health and well-being.

One approach that is working well is known as integrated student support — organized efforts to understand and meet students’ strengths and needs. When implemented well, they ensure that students are better off socially, emotionally and academically. Research shows that their teachers, schools and communities benefit too.

What are these schools doing differently? How are they heeding the alarms and using integrated student support to drive positive outcomes? Last year, a working group of researchers and practitioners set out to provide initial answers.

Read the full article about integrated student support by Joan Wasser Gish at The 74.